Conversion rate optimization (CRO)
What is CRO?
Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is an important part of online marketing strategies. In an environment that offers so many choices and distractions, CRO is the science and art of capturing the visitors’ attention and leading them closer to a desired goal. It's a marketing strategy, created with the purpose of maximizing revenue, but it's also a strategy that improves the user experience. As an effect, websites become more effective, delivering the exact information they are supposed to, while visitors navigate faster and easier. A page is considered well optimized when a high percentage of visitors “convert” into customers or subscribers.
Conversion rate optimization is a crucial online marketing activity for all the marketers who want to maximize revenue from SEO, PPC and other forms of online promotion that attract traffic on site. It can also highlight otherwise missed opportunities. Moreover, it allows marketers to track and keep up with the ever-changing customer preferences and motivations.
What is a good conversion rate?
According to the end goal, the conversion rate value can vary a lot so there's no real standard for a good conversion rate. However, if similar conversion funnels are compared, then some benchmarks can be created. For example, some of the most popular conversion rate benchmarks are according to e-commerce industries: fashion, home & garden, electronics etc. According to industry, the average conversion rate might be higher or lower, but that's quite irrelevant to the individual website owner because regardless of their conversion rate there is always room for improvement.
The average e-commerce conversion rate is about 3%. This means that 97% of visitors leave sites without completing a purchase. This doesn’t mean, however, that each and every site is destined to fall into its industry’s average conversion rate.
A good conversion rate is one that is steadily growing. The starting point does not really matter as long as the evolution is positive and constant. Statistically speaking the top 10% of websites convert on average about 5 times better than the industry average. So as long as you're not in the 10%, the best conversion rate is a growing one.
Macro conversions vs micro conversions
Most people imagine that CRO has just one main goal: improving sales. While this is a major point of focus for conversion optimization, it's definitely not the only one. This is why marketers usually divide types of desired visitor actions into two main goals: macro and micro conversions.
Macro conversions are most of the time represented by product sales. They are the end-goal of a website. However, micro conversions although often overlooked, have the power to support and drastically influence the number of macro conversions. The mostly refer to actions that don't involve any type of payment such as submitting personal information (aka leads), downloading a resource, visiting a key page, subscribing to the weekly newsletter etc. One of the key aspects of micro conversions is that they are a milestone to the end-goal and they help make the customer journey easier.
For example, it's quite difficult to bring traffic to a product page and hope for instant sales. However, it's much simpler to bring visitors to a content page discussing the benefits of a product, then to have them subscribe to a newsletter (micro-conversion) in order to get more info about that product. Next, the communication will continue on the email during which the users will get more acquainted with the product and brand, so their trust level would continuously improve. So as they eventually visit the product page through a link in the email, they will be much more willing to buy.
Conversion rate optimization best practices & principles
CRO is usually done in-house or it can be outsourced to a digital agency that offers conversion rate optimization services. Although there is no standard approach to CRO, there are some activities that more often than not make up the core of the optimization process. Some of these activities are A/B testing, heat mapping, session recordings, website surveys, web personalization, emotional copywriting etc.
The issue of best practices is often discussed in the CRO industry. There is a tendency for people new to conversion optimization to look for example and case studies from other companies and replicate them on their own websites. While at first sight, this might seem like a good tactic, it's not recommended at all because of the multitude of factors that can change the outcome of an optimization test. This is why it's adamant that each change to the website to be tested before being set live. Sometimes though, when there is not enough traffic to run a proper test it might be a good idea to adhere to the best practices, but that's until the website grows and serious testing can take place.
However, regardless of the CRO strategy approach, the specialists should guide their actions according to the main conversion optimization principles: urgency, social proof & clarity.
Urgency refers to having some sort of a deadline until a certain action can be performed. According to research, people tend to take much quicker decisions when there's a deadline in sight, as opposed to the alternative of being left to decide by themselves. A good example for this CRO principle are messages on booking.com enticing you to hurry with the decision of making a reservation because it might be taken by someone else in the mean time.
Social proof is a staple principle of CRO because it helps improve a key purchasing factor: trust. The fact that other people have bought the same product or service makes it much more likely for someone else to also try...especially if some of those previous clients are people they know. Some of the most effective social proof examples are client testimonials, social media signals, product reviews, and ratings. Here's a social proof example from one of Amazon's top selling products:
Clarity is also important because, without it, visitors will get lost in irrelevant details making it more unlikely for them to complete a purchase. This is why every element on each page must be there for a reason and anything that does not justify its presence should be removed. Clarity reduces clutter and a cluttered website is one that is at the opposite pole of a conversion optimized one.
Examples of common CRO strategies
Conversion optimization strategies can increase the number of real customers by guiding their attention to what matters throughout the buying process. Depending on the context, there are different ways to implement conversion optimization strategies. Here are a few examples of how website conversion optimization can be approached:
Situation: Visitors arrive on the homepage or on a category page, they seem interested in the displayed information, but in the end leave without making any significant action (subscribing to newsletter, buying, completing a form). This type of on-site behavioral pattern can point to a missing element in the navigation structure or a lack of incentives.
Solution: You can solve this by optimizing shopping routes. Make subcategories of product pages easily accessible and highly visible on landing pages.
Situation: You notice in Google Analytics that a specific segment of your visitors arrive on the site and then leave too quickly, without reading the information or taking any action.
Solution: In this particular case, actions should concentrate on decreasing bounce rate. The cause of a high bounce rate could be search engine optimization on words that don’t describe the product accurately. It could also be an advertisement that promises more than the site can actually offer. In order to find the real reason and apply the appropriate optimization tactic, research and data analysis need to be done. A good approach to doing so is by creating an on-exist visitor feedback survey where you ask them what are the main reasons they leave so soon.
Situation: Visitors have the intention to purchase and add items to their shopping carts, but the transactions are never finalized.
Solution: When it comes to e-commerce, one of the most important aspects conversion rate optimization should focus on, is lowering the cart abandonment rate. In this case, the checkout page must be thoroughly tested in order to make sure there is no technical issue at play. After making sure that the issue is not of technical nature, other tactics can be implemented from offering incentives, creating better product descriptions, offering alternative shipping options, or delivering personalized messages based on context and customer profile.
Conversion rate optimization methodology
Conversion optimization is a logical process in which you draw conclusions based on research. By putting together the various data about your target market, user behavior and motivation, and user interaction with different website architectures and display of information.
The first step of a sound CRO process starts with gathering data. Visitor segmentation and analyzing the conversion funnel can help retrieve important data such as visitor profiles, the site’s weak spots, and its points of interest. A simple way to determine where to start the optimization is by trying to answer some basic questions:
- Why do visitors leave?
- Are certain groups of visitors more likely to leave the site?
- What’s missing on the site?
- What can be improved?
- Which obstructions can be eliminated from the sales pathway?
After interpreting the data and drawing conclusions, a hypothesis should be formulated. Based on what you already know, what change in the navigation process, on the landing pages, or the cart checkout process, could persuade more users to finalize a purchase or to buy more?
Through testing, you can find out if the recommended change has the expected results. Testing allows previewing changes and their effects without actually making permanent changes on site. Only if the expected results are confirmed, changes will be implemented.
Conversion rate optimization tools
Website conversion optimization is a science that brings together several disciplines: statistics, psychology, copywriting, design, ergonomics etc. Depending on the nature of your project you might need a tool that does A/B testing, or surveys, or heat maps, or user recordings, or website overlays, etc. Ideally, you'd find a tool that combines several features in order to have easy data access between features, to have a single login and to save on monthly costs. One of these conversion rate optimization tools is Omniconvert.
Omniconvert is a complete conversion optimization solution that combines creativity with research and testing. With Omniconvert you can easily segment visitors by multiple variables, create tests and experiments, create personalized messages and conduct surveys that teach you more about customers’ expectations.
On the internet, the decision to click on a link or to leave a page is taken within a second. Successful conversion optimization tackles the problem of capturing the customer’s attention at the right time. With Omniconvert you can seize the opportunity to re-engage users in navigation or in the buying process, by delivering content in real time, which is relevant to them and their lifestyles.
Omniconvert is a tool focused on creating personalized interactions with the customer and on giving a friendly and accessible aspect to the buying process.
If you’re looking for a user-friendly software that makes the process of conversion optimization easy without requiring additional knowledge, Omniconvert is it, and can help any website reach a higher conversion rate. Sign up here now and give it a try!